How to Hit a Golf Ball with a Driver

Published on 06/08/2023 · 9 min readGolf Expert Andrew Howard gives step-by-step instructions on how to hit a golf ball with a driver that will have you hitting the ball perfectly with each swing this season!
Andrew Howard, Golf Expert
By Golf Expert Andrew Howard

Photo by Microgen

"Drive for show, putt for dough." The driver, aka “The Big Dog,” is sometimes our best friend and other times our worst enemy. Whether you're hunting for a birdie or struggling off the tee, the driver is a club that can be hard to keep under control for any amateur golfer.

If you're reading this, you're probably one of many amateur golfers who don't have the power of professional golfers like Dustin Johnson. However, there are many reasons that the driver is a hard club to hit. Since the driver is the longest club in the bag, it has the highest swing speed. With this, driving distance is much farther than other clubs in your bag. So, when the club face is slightly off, there is a high tendency to hit a huge slice or hook. However, with a solid swing tempo and other tips, the driver is a beast that can be tamed.

Between the backswing, (or the takeaway), the downswing, and the rest of the golf swing, there is a lot to think about: your upper body, your lower body, the shoulder width and so much more. If you don't have a solid base in your setup, the driver swing can go awry at any time during your swing path. No matter where your golf game is currently, the fundamentals are absolutely crucial to keep your tee shots in the fairway. However, a few simple adjustments to our fundamentals can change everything!

Before we dive in, I want you to ask yourself a few questions. What do you know about the driver setup? Do you have a routine? How is your ball positioned? What is your spine angle like? Do you have a solid golf grip? Yes, I know this is a lot to think about, but we need to learn to walk before we can run. In order to learn, we need to ask ourselves these types of questions, especially when PGA Tour players make it look as easy as one, two, and three. What's different between us and them? Fundamentals.

Instead of delving into the countless amount of club shafts and club heads to choose from, let's simply focus on the fundamentals. It doesn't matter which club shaft or which driver you have if you don't have solid fundamentals. Arguably the single most important thing is the perfect grip.

The Perfect Grip

The pictures below are for right-handed golfers.

Step One

The single most important thing to mastering any type of golf swing is the way you grip the golf club. If you’re right-handed, take your golf club and place the grip in your left hand (opposite for left-handed players). Now, pay attention because it is important where you put it in your hand. As shown in the picture the golf grip should be at a slight angle with only two-and-half fingers touching the golf grip. The pinky finger should not be touching the golf grip yet. Once you have matched the picture, let's move on to the second step. Another important thing to remember is grip pressure. Most amateur golfers grip the club too tightly.

Photo by Amilciar

Step Two

Now that you have the perfect position with the club lying on an open hand, close your hand naturally. If done correctly, your thumb will be slightly right of the center of the grip (not directly down the shaft, but slightly to the right side).

*Note - if your hand is too much to the right side, that would be considered a strong grip while a right hand more on the left side would be considered a weak grip. Compare it to the picture, then move on to the next step with the right hand.

Photo by Steve Cukrov

Step Three

Now that we have conquered the first two steps of our left hand on the golf grip, take the club now with the proper grip with your left hand and point the club head to the sky so your arm is out in front of you in a relaxed position as if you were to shake someone with your left hand.

Once in this position, take your right hand and open it. First, place the pinky of your right hand and place it between the space of your pointer finger and the middle finger on your left hand. You can put it inside that space or on top of that space your preference (shown in the pictures below).

Photos by Hanzl

Meanwhile, keep your right hand open so your palm is pointing left and away from you, and start to close your hand slowly, not gripping the club too tightly nor too loosely. As shown in the second picture above, you will see your right thumb is on an angle now and the pressure point in your thumb is on the left-center on the golf grip. Take some practice swings to see how your new grip feels! Make sure you're swinging through the ball with your fairway woods. Use a nice sweeping motion as you swing through the swing plane.

THIS MAY FEEL UNCOMFORTABLE, BUT THAT IS AWESOME! This means changes are happening, and you will make improvements from where you currently are with practice. Now that we have created the perfect grip, let's move on to some key fundamentals that we need for the driver.

Ball Position

First thing first, let's get started with ball position. This is so important each and every time as the best players in golf have a tremendously consistent setup. When hitting a wedge, you should put the ball in the middle of your stance. However, for a driver, this changes as we want the ball positioned inside our lead foot.

Why do we want to do this?

We put the ball inside our left heel to hit up on the ball and increase our launch angle! This setup, paired with consistency and proper swing mechanics is what gets you in the right impact position to hit bombs off the tee.

Posture

We need to be quite aware of posture. For a driver, we should move our trail foot back a tad. Having slightly more distance between our left foot and right foot sets us up in a stable position. I learned a great drill from my first PGA golf coach called the bend, bend, drop. As strange as it sounds, it puts you in an ideal athletic position, especially at the top of your swing. You can practice this without a club in front of a mirror to check your posture. Mastering this posture gets you locked in, especially for the transition to the down-swing, which is one of the most important mechanics to create consistency and club head speed through the driver swing.

To do the bend-bend drop, stand straight in front of a mirror and bend your knees twice then let your hips drop forward slowly to see a straighter posture in the mirror. This will put you in a position to make more powerful swings. After you have seen what this looks like, we’ll need to change things a little bit because it is necessary to have a different setup for our driver as it differs from hitting wedges or irons.

To avoid mixing up the left shoulder and the right shoulder, I'm going to refer to the lead and trail shoulder. Now that we have done the bend-bend drop drill, let’s get in that same position and grab a golf club or alignment stick this time.

Spine Tilt

Put your club or alignment stick parallel to your shoulders and hug it against yourself. You will see you are creating a straight angle by doing this, however, when holding a driver, drop your shoulder slightly. The lead shoulder will be pointing up slightly and making a 160-degree angle. Your trail shoulder will be lower now than your lead shoulder You can note these aspects in the golfer below. It’s worth noting that you will have some spine tilt, known as the “reverse K” to many golfers. We do this because we want to have a positive angle of attack!

Why do we want an upward angle of attack?

If we have a negative angle of attack, we will lose significant distance. We want to hit our drives farther and make solid contact on the center of the clubface to increase our ball speed. By simply dropping the trail shoulder slightly and changing the angle of the shoulders, you will have a better chance of creating a positive angle of attack and hitting up on the golf ball.

Driver Stance

Photo by Rulo Davila

Let's move on to our setup position. You might ask yourself, "How far should my feet be apart for the driver?" Pretend you are setting up to hit a shorter iron shot. Your feet should be shoulder's length apart. The only thing you will change now is moving your back foot one footstep behind to give yourself a wider stance.

Also, open up your lead foot so that it is pointing at the same angle as we mentioned before as your right thumb!

Why do we want a wider stance and open lead foot?

We want a wider stance so we can create more hip rotation, which leads to more clubhead speed, aka hitting bombs! By creating this wider stance, we also have more stability to generate more power from the ground up. In addition to an open lead foot, this allows the body to turn more. If you watch anyone on the PGA Tour, you will see all the great players doing the exact same things when hitting a driver.

There is no exception when it comes to this if you want to maximize swing/clubhead speed and ball speed while also increasing your accuracy of hitting the ball in the middle of the fairway! Who doesn't want that?! Look at our golfer above where he has all the features of the important thing we mentioned when having a solid driver setup.

Bonus Tip: Teeing the Ball Up

Photo by Kristin Hardwick

Something you might not think of is how high you should tee up the ball, but this is important. As you can see in the picture, half of the ball is above the top of the clubface.

We do this because when creating the reverse K spine tilt, we put ourselves in a position to hit up on the ball. This is needed as the driver loft is the lowest of all the clubs in the bag. We need to match this position on the golf ball by teeing it at this height to give us the best chance to hit the ball solidly.

I hope these few key fundamentals and bonus tip helps your game out! Using these tips should increase your club-head speed, help your ball flight, and more! Don't forget to practice! It's often the most disregarded step for amateur players!

Once you’ve implemented these tips into your game, connect with me or another Golf Expert here on Curated to get fit for your next driver!

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